Year End Book Report: The Best Books I Read in 2011

Badass Book Report

Here we are, I finally begin my year end round up articles. In February. Sorry about that. I wanted to do it earlier but I wanted to give myself a little bit more time to finish off some movies and books that are eligible for this list. But, apologies aside, my lists are here.

As you know, back in 2009 I started keeping a book log with everything I read. It makes looking at this list easier. I keep it in a Google Spreadsheet so I can access it from any computer.

Here it is.

My Book Log

You can click the image to view it or just click here.  So I perused this list and made my selections.  Below are the best books I read last year (not including re-reads).

Unlike last year, I’ve split this list into books and comics/trade paperbacks.  I read enough of both of them to create their own lists and it was hard to weed out stuff just because it was a comic in order to make room for a book.  So, last year I only read three books that were actually released during the 2011 calendar year.  Did they make the list?  Read on to find out.

So without further ado, here are my favorite books I read in 2011.

Lost Hero Son of Neptune
Heroes of Olympus series – Rick Riordan – This is the sequel series to Riordan’s Percy Jackson series which made my inaugural best of list in 2009. It is currently up to book 2.  Son of Neptune is one of the three books that was released in 2011 that I read. I loved the first book in this series, The Lost Hero and Son of Neptune is almost as good. Riordan has created a fascinating world and I long to return to it when book 3 comes out.  And despite what Riodan had said earlier, Percy Jackson is all over this series.  Especially Son of Neptune.

The Magicians
The Magicians – Lev Grossman – Wow, this book is really good. It’s billed as sort of a Harry Potter in high school, and I see the parallels, but this story is tonally a 180 from Harry Potter. From the friendships to even how magic is actually executed, it’s just completely different. And great. This book is great. I look forward to checking out the sequel, The Magician King.  I’ll probably check out a few of Grossman’s other books, too.

Darth Bane 1 Darth Bane 2 Darth Bane 3
Star Wars: Darth Bane trilogy – Drew Karpyshyn – This series was recommended to me years ago by my friend Dr Mike, but I was reluctant to read it because it was about a bunch of Star Wars characters I didn’t know in a time period I knew nothing about.  Boy was I wrong.  It’s amazing.  This series needs to be the template for all the Star Wars books that want to focus on a specific character.  Interesting origins, cool bits of Sith history.  It’s just great.  If you read Star Wars (or science fiction) at all, read this series.

Artemis Fowl 5 Artemis Fowl 6
Artemis Fowl Books 5-6 – Eoin Colfer – I love this series.  Each book has gotten better than the last.  It’s fun, light, action packed, funny.  I can’t recommend it enough.  I still need to read book 7, but it’s been rather elusive.  I haven’t been able to find it at any Barnes & Noble or my local used paperback stores.  I haven’t been able to snag it on paperbackswap.com, either.  To get it I’ll have to order it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.com.  I’m debating about getting it for my Nook.

Scarecrow Hell Island
Shane Scofield Books 3 and 4 – Matthew Reilly – Oh man, I love Reilly. He is such an action packed writer. I’ve read like 6 or 7 of his books and they are all amazing. I put his Jack West Jr books on my list last year and now I’m putting his other series, Scarecrow, on my list this year. The two Scarecrow books I read last year were book 3 (Scarecrow) and book 4 (Hell Island).  They are both bad ass.  Hell Island, though, is actually more a novella.  It was written for an educational program in Australia to get kids excited to read.  It became so popular that he released it as a book.  The fifth book, Scarecrow Returns, was released in Jan 2012 in hardcover.  It’s going to be hard for me to wait for the paperback next year.  I want it now.  Anyway, if you like good action/adventure novels, read some of Reilly’s stuff.  You won’t regret it.

Now, here are my favorite trade paperbacks/comics I read this year.

Ult Fant 4 Vol 1
Ultimate Fantastic Four Volumes 1 – 5 – Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis – I’m a big fan of the Fantastic Four. Especially in the 80s when John Byrne was drawing them. I was originally uninterested in the Ultimate Marvel Universe until I started reading them, now I’m hooked. This F4 reboot from 2003-2004 is amazing. They need to make a movie of this group NOW.  The writing and characterizations are great as is most of the artwork, especially when you get around issue #30.  This series perfectly updates and reboots the Fantastic Four for the modern comic reader.  I loved it.

Ultimates 1 Ultimates 2
The Ultimates Ultimate Collection 1 and The Ultimates 2 Ultimate Collection – Mark Millar (writer), Bryan Hitch (art) – This is the Marvel Ultimate version of the Avengers. I was never a really big Avengers fan so I was reluctant to read these series but I was wrong. They are incredible. It’s easy to see now where Marvel is getting it’s ideas for the current crop of awesome movies getting released. All of these Ultimates stories came out in the early 2000s and their artwork actually looks like the actors that wound up starring in the movies. Tony Stark looks like Robert Downey Jr. Thor looks like Chris Hemsworth. Nick Fury is Sam Jackson. Amazing. The first Ultimates series is good, but The Ultimates 2 is ridiculous and awesome. I bet many plot elements from 2 will be in the new Avengers movie. Loki plays a major part in this story, which is why I think it will be similar. I’ll do a more in depth review of this later, but trust me, this is good reading.

Supreme
Supreme: The Story of the Year – Alan Moore (writer), Jon Bennett (art) – I’ve made it pretty well known that I am not a fan of Watchmen by Alan Moore.  It’s too self-indulgent and hard to read.  I appreciate what he was doing, but it’s just too much.  However, Moore’s work on Supreme in the 90s is AMAZING.  He completely deconstructs the Superman archetype and compares and contrasts it to the super hero ideal from the Golden Age, Silver Age and the Bronze Age where violent super heroes ran rampant.  It is so great and many of the comics that flash back to the Golden Age adventures of Supreme are actually drawn in that old fashioned style.  It truly is a joy to read and I think this is a better Watchmen than the actual Watchmen.

Superman Batman - Supergirl Supergirl Power
Superman/Batman: Supergirl, Supergirl Vol 1: Power – Jeph Loeb (writer), Michael Turner (art), Ian Churchill (art) – This is the introduction and beginning story arc for the Kara Zor-El Supergirl.  She debuted in Superman Batman in 2003 and was then given her own title.  The 2003 Superman Batman series by Jeph Loeb is pretty awesome.  The second story arc involved Kara plummeting to Earth in a meteor shower.  With amazing art by Michael Turner, this is one fun read.  Superman trying to contain a 16 year old girl who may, in fact, be more powerful than him is hilarious.  Darkseid even makes a great appearance.  I loved it.  The second story, Power, features appearances by nearly the entire DC Universe and finds Kara discovering the extent of her powers and learning some hard truths about her past on Krypton.  Highly recommended.  I also read Supergirl Volume 2: Candor and was less than satisfied.  Loeb wasn’t writing the story, it was confusing and hard to follow.  But the above collections are awesome.

How about some Honorable Mentions?  Here you go:

Ultimate Comics: Iron Man: Armor Wars – Warren Ellis (writer), Steve Kurth (art) – Wow, this is really good.  Again, it’s the Ultimate version of Iron Man who looks and acts just like Robert Downy Jr.   This story is so good on so many levels.  Just amazing.

Bec (The Demonata Book 4) – Darren Shan – I’ve put this series on my year end best before (see last year).  I was not really looking forward to this installment because it takes place hundreds of years before the other books, but it’s really good.  This is such a well written and cool series.  I look forward to starting book 5, Blood Beast.

Transfer of Power (Mitch Rapp series 1) – Vince Flynn – My dad is a huge fan of this Mitch Rapp series.  I didn’t really want to start reading it because there are currently like 15 books in the series.  But my dad always takes my recommendations so I picked up the first book and read it.  And loved it.  Wow, this book is strikingly similar to 24.  You could literally replace Mitch with Jack Bauer.  But that’s not a bad thing.  I really, really enjoyed this book.  Action packed.  However, I read book 2 back in November and it wasn’t as good as book 1.  It felt like a setup for the third book.  It’s frustrating to read a 500 page book and have it be mostly setup for the next book.  Very disappointing.  But I have book 3 ready to go and I’m going to continue to give the character a chance because I really liked that first book.

So, that ends my book recap for this year.  Stay tuned, I have my favorite and least favorite movies of 2011 coming up next.

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5 Responses to “Year End Book Report: The Best Books I Read in 2011”

  1. Sadly, I have read none of these book. The Star Wars series sound pretty interesting, though.

    I did read a book called Ready Player One last month that was AWE-SOME. I’m not sure if you’ve covered it on any past lists, but if not it’s definitely a must-read. Tons of classic video game references, sci-fi plot and just a hint of Tron.

  2. I’ve heard of that Ready Player One. I have plans to read it at some point. I’m glad to hear you liked it. Some of the reviews on Amazon were not as favorable. And I realize you have to take those with a grain of salt. Amazon reviews tend to say something is the greatest ever and at the same time the worst thing ever. There’s no in between.

  3. I just finished up both of Lev Grossman’s Magician’s books. I’d recommend the Magician King to you. It takes a totally different turn than the first one, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for the next one in the series.

  4. Oh I love that banner picture so much (the bad ass report one). I’m glad I’m on my lunch break as I BUSTED out laughing. Tempted to ask you to make a header picture for my blog but… bahahaha.

    Just saw a really lengthy review for the Lev Grossman book and I was too lazy to read it. Glad to have your endorsement!

    Reminds me that I need to check out the third PJ book from the library (audio).

    • Trish, I would gladly create banners for you. All you have to do is ask. 😉 Remember, I did your awesome Non-Fiction Five buttons.

      I just loaned my friend Mike, PJ Book 3, 4 and 5. He was reluctant to read them but I told him they progressively get better and 5 is AMAZING. He read them and agreed.

      Btw, how’s Chickpea Banana?

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